From offering rental opportunities to comfortable options for hosting extended family, coach homes and garden suites have been an amazing development.Read More
Another EkoBuilt coach house project was completed earlier this year, this one in Prince Edward County, surrounded by farm fields and wineries and with breathtaking views of the St. Lawrence seaway.
The home will be used as a cottage / second home for a young family from the Toronto area.
We’re so pleased to share one of the first coach homes by EkoBuilt, this one in the village of Pakenham west of Ottawa.
This great little project was designed as a seasonal cottage or chalet for today, with plans for it to become the owner’s retirement residence within five to ten years.
Heading into September we continue to be bowled over by the interest in coach houses and tiny houses. They are so obviously striking a chord with so many of you!
The options for creating income generation, expanding home living space, establishing a studio/home office, or providing an in-law suite right within the grounds of your existing home all appeal.
In-law suite or extended family living
Creating an in-law suite for a parent or parents who can enjoy their own space but also be more readily supported is very appealing. The same is true for an adult child or family member who may need the benefit of close proximity to supporting family members.
Everyone gets their own space, but access couldn’t be easier and the cost has a lot to recommend it.
Did you know that some of our coach house models come with an extra bedroom or den? These bonus rooms truly make these coach houses worth considering.
An art or music studio/recording space are additional related uses. Our two-storey model with a three-car garage would make a fabulous workshop for any auto enthusiast.
With a separate entrance and dedicated space, you’ll increase your ability to concentrate, avoid interruption, and – of course – the professional impression for any visitors.
You’ll also retain the flexibility to use the space in other ways in future.
Airbnb or other income generating unit
If your primary residence isn’t suited to an income generating unit, but your lot meets the City of Ottawa’s coach house requirements, you could consider a low-cost coach house.
A dedicated unit with a completely separate entrance will also allow you to continue to enjoy full privacy within your main residence.
Find out more
Eager to learn more? Make sure you check out these essential resources:
- How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa (our handy guide to digesting the City’s PDF)
- EkoBuilt’s 8 Coach House plans
And of course, give us a shout, we’d love to help you figure out how a coach house could be the solution you’re seeking!
Intrigued by the possibility but uncertain about the details?
Interest in building a Coach House continues to come from many Ottawa residents, but along with that interest comes a lot of questions and a little confusion. We invariably have to point folks to the City for specific details pertaining to their property, but there is a lot of good information now available that can help residents to do their own research and feel comfortable in understanding their options in the early phases of planning.
The new Coach House legislation is a great boon for many. The potential in particular for an income-generating property right where you live is really appealing to many and it’s a seriously smart investment. But where to start if you have a property and you need to figure out what you can obtain permission to build?
In the fall of 2017, the City of Ottawa published a 32-page document on How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa, and here we break it down into small, easily understood parts. You may still end up reading that 32-page document, but starting here will give you the key information more quickly. We’re also able to clarify some information that is not currently available in that document.
What is a coach house?
Meant to be a gentle form of intensification, coach house are smaller dwellings – usually up to 40% the size of the principal dwelling – on residential properties with detached, semi-detached, duplex or some rowhouse dwellings (the latter must be on a corner lot or have access to a travelled lane).
In fact, any primary residence under 125 m² can accommodate a 50 m² house. For example a 90 m² house would still be allowed to have the coach house of 50 m² just like the 125 m² home. This is welcome news for homeowners of small, post-war homes in Ottawa.
The initial requirements list below is important – if your property doesn’t meet these basic guidelines, you can’t build.
Coach houses must be:
- secondary to the principal dwelling
- remain as an accessory use to the main dwelling (and cannot be severed)
- designed and located to be in harmony with the neighourhood and immediate neighbours
- serviced by the principal dwelling’s water/sanitation connections, or by a direct connection when the main dwelling is on a private well/septic
- designed and located to preserve mature trees
- development is not allowed on the floodplain
- for urban lots, the coach house must be in the rear yard (in rural lots larger than 0.4 hectares exceptions are permitted)
- in the urban area, the main dwelling and the coach house must share the same parking area and yards
- the coach house must not exceed lot coverage of 40% of the yard
- max. height not to exceed the height of the primary dwelling (up to 3.6m, or a flat roof of 3.2m in urban areas; 4.5m or up to 6.1m when a garage is included in village/rural areas)
- it’s not possible to have a secondary dwelling unit inside the principal dwelling and a coach house; you may only have one of these
- existing accessory structures may be permitted to convert in part or whole (e.g. garages, sheds or stables) up to a max. footprint of 80m2 (urban area) or 95m2 (rural area)
2 Storey Coach Houses
“An application to allow the height of up to a two storey coach house in the urban area through a minor variance may be considered where the conditions for minor variances have been considered and the coach house is proposed to contain a garage on the main level.”
From How to Plan Your Coach House in Ottawa, City of Ottawa
All coach houses require a Building Permit, and any to be sited with private septic/well will also require a Site Plan Control Approval application.
Make sure your planned investment will be viable first by understanding these key factors:
Servicing feasibility: water/sanitation
Your coach house will need full water/sanitation service, just like the primary dwelling. For urban lots with municipal service, you will need to extend that service to the coach house, and this “may mean modifying or replacing the service at the point where it connects with the City’s water and sewermain”. For lots with private well/septic, the coach house will need to connect to these.
In either case, you will want to consult the appropriate professionals to help ensure that you have the best plan and infrastructure in place so that approval is given.
The City of Ottawa does also recommend that any new coach house also have an independent water heater; Ontario building code does not require this, but it’s strongly recommended.
Servicing feasibility: electrical
Naturally you will need to investigate the electrical service for your primary dwelling to see how it may be extended to your planned coach house. Additional capacity will almost always be needed, and you need to develop an electrical plan that will be approved.
Servicing feasibility: grading/drainage
A formal grading and drainage plan will be required by the City of Ottawa as part of your application for a Building Permit for any coach house “55 m2 or larger in size and/or for coach houses which are within 1.2 metres from a property line”. It makes good sense to consider grading and drainage as part of any coach house project.
All of these steps are a fundamental part of the planning process, and EkoBuilt can help ensure that you go about this properly. Our team of professionals can make this part of the process much easier, navigating key steps along the way.
Design and placement
Some commonsense factors come into play with the placement and design for your coach house:
- setbacks from property lines will apply and must be adhered to
- height permission will depend on location and lot size (see above)
- privacy for neighbours will be important; entrances and windows will generally face towards the principal dwelling and not outwards toward neighbours
- the Zoning By-law requires a walkway from the coach house to the street of 1.2m in width (for pedestrian access and emergency services), however the walkway may not be used to expand parking on the lot
- the City’s 32-page guide provides excellent visual examples of different urban and rural coach house configurations
Finally, remember that your new coach house will require insurance coverage and it will also increase the property taxes that you pay.
For a coach house that will be used as an Airbnb rental or another form of income generation, the total cost of a coach house may be well worth it.
Looking for a great solution? The EkoBuilt team is ready to help make your coach house dream a reality, with our expertise, experience and 8 Coach House designs. We can also create a custom design just for you.
Give us a shout today: firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-227-4663.
Download the City of Ottawa’s 32-page document on How to plan your Coach House in Ottawa
After a month of intense activity at some great shows where we met a lot of great folks, it’s time to get back to the topics that you’ve asked to hear more about. Chief among those is coach homes and tiny homes, and there is definitely an intersection between our energy efficient coach house plans and anyone interested in living small.
Many of you have already familiarized yourselves with the essentials of our coach house offering, so in this post we’re enhancing that information for those of you who are clearly entertaining the notion of building to this scale. Here are the questions we get most frequently:
Are the plans customizable?
Indeed they are! While we currently offer 8 coach house plans, we can modify any of them or create new plans from scratch.
We are a complete design/build firm and love the challenge of finding the best design for each client’s particular needs and preferences.
What can I build on my property?
This is definitely a question for a City of Ottawa development officer, reachable at 613-580-2424. A call to the City will help to clarify any specific limitations or considerations for your property. We can also help with interpreting the information you receive from the City, as we deal with this regularly.
How do your costs compare?
EkoBuilt’s costs appear to be approximately 10 – 12% higher than some of our competition, which results in an additional $20,000 on average by project. But consider this:
Building codes are becoming stricter every year and adopting the most energy efficient build that you can afford now is well worth it. It’s wise to protect your coach house investment by building to the passive house standard in order to keep pace with changing codes (in fact, you’ll stay ahead of codes and recoup your costs and more over time).
EkoBuilt is quite unique in its approach and can work with you to build to the standard that best fits your current budget while protecting your investment for the long run.
Definitely read our post What it costs to build a coach house.
Do we need solar panels?
Solar panels can be used for additional economic benefit, offsetting Hydro bills, but they are not required. In our design and construction we are mainly focused on saving money through a focus on super energy efficiency.
For those interested in solar panels, one of the greatest benefits of our coach homes is they are easily net zero (able to produce as much energy as they use) which results in a complete offset of your utility bills. An approximate $10,000 investment in solar panels is a good baseline.
Ottawa Coach House Essentials
Make sure you review everything in our Coach House section, and please reach out to us if you’re thinking about:
- simply living small
- a home office or home studio
- a secondary dwelling
- an in-law suite
- a rental unit / Air B&B
We can help you to consider all of the angles and to come up with the smartest plan for you.
A snapshot of some of our current projects is actually a great way to get a feel for how some homeowners are using EkoBuilt’s energy efficient house plans as well as our design expertise. We thought we’d share this round up for a bit of home design and planning inspiration:
Ottawa Urban Infill Project
We’re excited to be working on preliminary drawings for an urban rebuild project close to Lansdowne Park and the Rideau Canal. A young, forward thinking family are the clients and we are excited to design their new family home. There is an existing post-war type house on the property that will be recycled, and a new home, designed for the 21st-century, will emerge.
We typically prepare a site plan, and it’s particularly important in this case as we’re working with limited space and need to design to maximize space on the property within the setbacks required by the City of Ottawa. There is a basement involved and we have given a couple of options for feedback from the client.
Photo Gallery – click to enlarge
Coach House Over Garage
This design started as a garage with a workshop and kennel area for three dogs. The clients decided to take advantage of the new Coach House Bylaw in Ottawa and put an apartment over the garage for affordable investment income.
The utility area will be the only heated area in the garage section, so we will super insulate the floor and follow passive principles for the second-floor apartment. The Coach House will face due south.
Photo Gallery – click to enlarge
House with Attached Garage
The property of this design is sloped, but not by much, which meant not having a basement, but also that it wouldn’t be slab on grade. A conventional poured concrete foundation is going to be installed, the only difference being R32 insulation beneath the slab instead of R10, as required by current code. With energy costs rapidly rising, it only makes sense to install more insulation, if reasonable to do so.
Photo Gallery – click to enlarge
Shooting Star – Modified Bungalow
This design started from our Shooting Star house plan, a 2 bed/2 bath bungalow of just over 1200 square feet. The client took our original plan and customized it to best suit their needs. It is a home designed to be off the grid because the client does not want to depend on the grid. We find this pretty inspiring. Why connect to the grid if you don’t have to?
Building to Passive House standard — the original inspiration behind our 13 energy efficient house plans — it’s easy to take the home off-grid. A generator is required, but we use a generator that burns oil from sun derived energy, including vegetable oil, reclaimed vegetable oil or bio diesel.
Photo Gallery – click to enlarge
Ottawa Custom Bungalow
If you can’t find a design, not to worry, we can help! The clients of this design came to us with a rough idea and, after a few revisions, we transformed the idea into a computer assisted drawing. It’s a unique situation because this home will sit in a forest but still consume 80% to 90% less energy than its building code equivalent, reinforcing the reality that every house should be passive!
Photo Gallery – click to enlarge
These examples show that we are ultimately a custom design/build firm. If you like our minimalistic, modern and sustainable approach to design, we can help in any capacity. Feel free to reach out to discuss your project!
Please note: as of March 2019 base pricing for coach house plans and basic shell installation have increased. The cost scenarios here will be affected in terms of total pricing as a result.
We have been receiving a tremendous amount of interest in our Coach House offering for the 2018 build season. We thought it would be appropriate to talk about future possibilities for everyone we haven’t heard from yet.
The new coach house regulations in Ottawa create a great opportunity for additional income in the form of a rental property and potentially even more income from an Airbnb format. It can also make for an economical in-law suite or starter home for a son or daughter.
Unlike most builders out in the marketplace, EkoBuilt is focused on building a style of home that is future-proof, something that will actually appreciate over time. Most builders design to today’s building code, and the real problem with this approach is that codes are starting to change dramatically.
This means that a home built to code standard today will be sub-standard come the next code change just four years from now.
Current building code is solid from a safety perspective, but the energy efficiency of most homes built to this code has not kept pace with drastically rising utility costs.
It doesn’t cost much extra to build ahead of code, so why not build to the future code standard? This is our approach and it just makes sense for anything truly designed to be a 21st century home.
To help in showing how possible it is to build to future code, we have prepared a cost analysis documentation for a couple of our designs.
Cost Analysis: Tiny Canuck
Size: 1 bedroom, 499 sq.ft.
Finished for $132,375:
- that’s a $694 mortgage payment
- rental $1250+ (including utilities), that’s a 56% ROI, beats the stock market.
Cost Analysis: Nepean Point
Size: 2 bedroom, 720. sq.ft.
Finished for $175,802:
- that’s a $922 mortgage payment
- rental $1750+ (including utilities), that’s a 53% ROI
Including utilities would make these units really attractive to anyone in the market. Since the homes are ‘future proof’, they can be heated and cooled inexpensively with electricity (no gas/propane) which will be the fuel of the future.
Alternatively, if a coach house is built to current code standards, your mortgage rates may be slightly less (5%) but with substantially higher utilities, overall cost of living would be more expensive.
Coach House Plans: CodePlus & Passive House
Make sure you visit our Coach House Plans page and review the kit pricing for our coach house plans based on CodePlus and on the Passive House standard. Questions? We’d be happy to answer them!
Please get in touch with us to explore Coach House opportunities for your property!
The 2017 Ottawa Home & Garden Show is coming this weekend and we’ll be there! Will you?
Ottawa Home & Garden Show, 23-26 March 2017, EY Centre, Ottawa
- More then 30,000 sq. ft. will be devoted to a stunning indoor garden display and you’ll have the chance to vote on the People’s Choice Award for best garden build 2017.
- Ultimate Upcycle Challenge: Eat Your Veggies! is putting a fresh spin on the deep-rooted tradition of growing vegetables and herbs. Ottawa’s top influencers are sourcing a pre-loved furniture item from the Re-Store and turning it into a functional and trendy urban garden. Don’t miss your chance to bid on these one-of-a-kind pieces during a silent auction at the show. All proceeds will benefit Habitat for Humanity and help local families.
- Experts in Landscaping and DIY will provide tips, guidance and inspiration.
- Kick back and enjoy the show vibe at the new Perth Brewery Beer Gardens.
- Coach House Alley will keep the spotlight on the new coach house by-laws in Ottawa and feature vendors like EkoBuilt who offer great coach house solutions.
Get Your Tickets
Save $3 per ticket by purchasing them online: Ottawa Home & Garden Show 2017 Tickets.
The Ottawa Home and Remodeling Show 2017 Coach House Village was a huge success and we were pleased to be a part. We were blown away with the amount of interest, from the general public as well as the Ottawa Citizen, CBC and CTV (the latter both broadcast from the Coach House pavilion).
We are attracted to the new Ottawa Coach House regulations because intensification of the city is an amazing example of sustainability! We heard lots of great ideas from visitors to our booth who are exploring putting a coach house on their property for the following kinds of reasons:
- Granny or in-law suite: save $2-3k per month moving from a $3000 – $4000 monthly payment (retirement home) to a $1000 / month coach house
- Rental unit: homeowners could make 12 to 15% return on investment per year (no more stock market speculation!)
- Starter home: alternative for kids moving out or starting families instead of moving into an expensive apartment or condo
- Air B&B: for those homeowner entrepreneurs out there
Apart from urban Coach House interest, there were also a number of visitors interested in tiny house communities run like a condominium and with a shared access road. There were retirees looking to truly downsize and those just looking to start small.
Listening to all these ideas was very energizing and inspiring and we look forward to seeing where the Ottawa Coach House trend will take us.